Two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw and design partner Bill Coore created Bandon Trails at the Bandon Dunes Resort. The layout will be one of the two courses used for next month’s U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links championships (Old Macdonald is the other). Freelance writer Evan Rothman talked with Coore about what the fast and firm conditions the competitors will face and the strategy they must employ to succeed.
Fast and firm courses have always been our preference, conditions permitting. We believe that brings forth the most interesting golf, for all classes of players, by offering a variety of shots that can be played throughout the course, on the ground as well as through the air.
For the game’s most highly skilled players, the easiest type of golf is golf that’s dictatorial: Hit your ball over this and between this and that. When there is greater latitude in the types of shots that can be played, particularly around the greens, it brings the element of uncertainty into the equation. An apparently simple shot that’s playable three or four ways can be more challenging than what looks to be a really difficult shot that only can be executed one way. Doubt in the mind of the very best golfers is a strong course defense.
There are also no guarantees on firm, fast sand-based seaside courses like Bandon Trails or Old Macdonald. You can hit what appears to be the most perfect shot, only for the ball to meander off in a direction that you might think is unjust. All the Public Links competitors will experience such moments. Some will leave Bandon Trails thinking, “Well, that wasn’t fair. It wasn’t totally predictable. I couldn’t mechanically execute according to plan and have absolutely predictable results.”
Yet that element of uncertainty and surprise is an integral part of the sport and its continued fascination. Throughout golf’s history, the mental side of the game has been as important as the physical side. The players who have adapted the best to fate and fickleness—who view the breaks as eventually evening out—have done the best.
I would hope that the whole experience at Bandon Dunes becomes a strong foundational block in these young people’s education in golf. It won’t be golf they will experience on a frequent basis, but it’s a type of golf that cannot be ignored.